date 2014-01-30
The Invention of Six Sigma

The Invention of Six Sigma

Most professionals around the world are aware of Six Sigma but many know about the history of it...

Back in the 1980’s Motorola was losing profit and respectability in all markets they were involved in. Customer satisfaction was a thing of the past and customer frustration was something Motorola was becoming accustomed to. For them, the operating costs were too high and levels of profit were too low. The truth was; Motorola were now hated by customers and members of the public due to the lack of quality in the service they provided. Therefore customers were now turning to Japanese companies who were beginning to emerge. These companies provided reliability where Motorola failed and the huge amount of quality defects were building up in front of Motorola’s doors. After much investigation it was found that all of their products were failing in the final test and had to therefore go back through a re-work cycle…this took time and money.

Something had to change…

There was a need for the birth of six sigma.

Motorola learnt that they needed to change all of their systems in all operations including; manufacturing, administration and sales in order to focus predominantly on customer satisfaction. They learnt from their Japanese rivals that all members of the company must be included in this transition; two brains were better than one, especially when it came to increasing morale and efficiency. They also learnt that it is crucial to keep things simple when it comes to designs rather than over complicate anything as the simpler things had higher levels of quality and reliability. From this they discovered that they needed to improve their manufacturing techniques to ensure that all products were built and function correctly the first time, from the beginning. The leaders of Motorola pulled their brains together in order to establish this vision of Six Sigma.

From this Six Sigma was launched in 1987 and the corporate leaders of this travelled the world to share their Six Sigma knowledge with all Motorola offices around the globe. Whilst many were not very excited about this change and many thought it was merely a fleeting idea which would soon be forgotten, the corporate leaders ensured that their Six Sigma methodology was employed throughout the Motorola manufacturing systems around the world. Six Sigma reports were demanded at every given moment, quality levels were to be their first agenda in all reviews on operations. Soon quality became Motorola’s mode of operation.

Later there became a concept called; ‘opportunity for error’ which must be performed correctly in order to deliver a good, conforming product or service to the customer. This was then followed by everyone in all situations. All team members were trained on this theory as well as the others within the Six Sigma formula. As this developed and Motorola grew, gaining their top spot in the competition once again, the term ‘customer satisfaction’ evolved and grew.

Black and Green belts were not applied to the Six Sigma methodology or program at Motorola until the 1990’s. Since then Motorola has now been recognised as the leading edge standard for all companies involved in manufacturing, service and retail.

Motorola learnt that the true experts in Six Sigma were those who used Six Sigma and did the job. From this all workers took responsibility and accountability for their own tasks which increased efficiency and quality throughout the processes.

Since its birth, Six Sigma has changed the world of business and manufacturing and will continue to do so.



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